Comcast Launches xFi Wi-Fi Gateway

This week Comcast launched the Xfinity xFi home Wi-Fi gateway. Targeting residential users, COMCAST is attempting to reduce customer service calls at the cost of home network security. The new xFi home gateway offers a simple to use dashboard. Customers will be able to see devices connected, troubleshoot issues, and even find their password. Unfortunately, the new device falls short on network security.

In 2017, 86 percent of in home broadband use will travel over Wi-Fi. By 2020 Americans will have an average of 50 Wi-Fi connected devices in their homes. Wi-Fi wireless is the future for home and business use.

xFi Wi-Fi Gateway Features

  • Manage on Any Device: Take control of easy-to-use apps, the web, and X1 voice remote
  • Find My Password: View and modify Wi-Fi names and passwords
  • Name & Organize: See all connected devices and give nicknames for easy reference
  • Permission: Set parental controls and bedtime schedules for any family member on the home Wi-Fi network
  • View Network: Create personal profiles and assign devices to individual family members
  • Text Alerts: Receive alerts when new devices join your home network
  • Network Pause: Instantly pause Wi-Fi access on your home network, by device or user
  • Voice Control: Say “show me devices” into the X1 voice remote and see results on the biggest screen in the home
  • Monitor Activity: See who’s most active on your home network and when
  • Troubleshoot Wi-Fi: Identify devices that are not working properly and receive tips to fix them
  • Cloud Management: See and control your home Wi-Fi network from anywhere

The list of xFi features is impressive, but we do feel it misses out on some important security technology. Securing your home network is critical. In many situations, the home network is the business network. As more people work from home, network security must be a priority. The daily news proves hackers are decimating company profits and personal lives. Many of these hacks start by infecting home network devices. Comcast misses the mark on security once again with the xFi.

What would have been great? More web based filtering, active virus and malware scan features. Malware phishing is a major point of intrusion for many home networks. The first step in fixing this issue involves deep packet inspection at Layer 7. This inspection must occur at the network device. Virus scanners in the network device need daily virus and malware definition updates. None of this is mentioned in COMCAST xFi press release. Suffice it to say, we are skeptical these features will be added to xFi.

Large scale hardware deployments are never easy for a telecommunication provider. These companies are like very large ships. Telecomm providers lumber along with only slight course corrections. Regardless, COMCAST needs to take some level of responsibility for daily hacking in their networks. This latest Wi-Fi network hardware was a great opportunity for the company to step up. Simplification is wonderful, it reduces call center traffic, but it can also oversimplify and reduce network security.

About Author: I am a communications systems specialist and U.S. Army veteran. My experience includes network switching systems, wireless networks, aerospace networks and consulting. I’m certified on Cisco and Extreme network equipment. I’ve worked as a network engineer for over 20 years. Connect with me on LinkedIn.

Update 05/10/2015:

It seems COMCAST feature set is identical to the Linksys router. Here see the video and come to your own conclusion.